>Special Friday for the East and the West

>Today is Good Friday for Western Christians, who are coming to the end of their Holy Week commemorations and preparing to celebrate Easter this Sunday. And here in the West, everyone from churches to grocery stores are gearing up for this sacred tradition. I was saddened by a grocery store ad I’ve seen several times this week, though, which says that Easter is “all about the ham.” No mention of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ at all.

For Orthodox Christians throughout the world, the forty days of Great Lent come to an end tonight with Vespers for Lazarus Saturday. Here’s a wonderful description of the meaning behind this weekend’s events:

“Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday”

And I love this artwork and story about Lazarus from South East Cyprus.

This year Eastern Easter, known as Pascha, is one week later than Western Easter. It varies every year. If you’re curious about why, here’s an article that explains why Pascha is a moveable feast.

I’m missing my home parish, St. John Orthodox Church in Memphis, as Holy Week approaches, and especially with the loss of a wonderful man, Paul Parham, who passed away this week. Paul was loved not only at St. John, but also at St. Jude Children’s Hospital, where he was Director of Communications for ALSAC-St. Jude, and later worked as a volunteer after his retirement. Paul also volunteered at St. John as business manager for fifteen years. I was church secretary for two of those years and always looked forward to Tuesdays, when Paul was in the office with me. His funeral will be held at St. John tomorrow, on Lazarus Saturday, which is a preview of the celebration of the Resurrection, which will happen at Pascha. May his memory be eternal.

And of course Sunday is Palm Sunday for Orthodox Christians. My reflections on Palm Sunday from 2011 are here: “The Tinderbox.” That’s my husband holding the palm branches, and Father Troy Mashburn, our pastor, holding the Gospel Book, at the end of the procession for Palm Sunday, also known as The Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem.

So, whether you’re commemorating Good Friday and headed towards Easter on Sunday, or participating in the events of Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday this weekend, I hope it will be a blessed time for all of you. I’m about to check out the schedule of Holy Week services at St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church here in Denver, and I hope to participate some… depending on when my third granddaughter decides to make her appearance. She’s got two shots at being an Easter baby with these two feast days being only a week apart this year and her official due date being April 14. I can’t wait to meet her! Have a great weekend, everyone.

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